He brought us to life with Christ—and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven. Each year there are parts of our great feast that amaze me all over again. This year, last Sunday’s feast of the Ascension especially opened up for me. Jesus rose into heaven—or in some way was taken from the apostles’
sight, and enthroned at the right hand of the Father. Good for him, but—what about us? The above quote from Ephesians Ch. 2 tells us: He took us with him! We live in a variety of places in our lives—childhood home, a special first apartment or house; part of us is still there. And when we’re booked into an especially exciting vacation condo, we begin to mentally move in, and live there in our minds until we’re actually there.
This quote from Ephesians—and many supporting quotes from church writers—tell us that we are actually already in heaven! God gave us a place with Jesus, done with his earthly sojourn and living in glory. So while we’re still working out our earthly sojourn, we have a place, not just reserved for us, but where we reside in spirit. Strive to find rest with him in heaven even now (St. Augustine, son of St. Monica.)
And today is the feast of Pentecost, completing the great cycle of Advent-Christmas-Lent Easter. It’s unusual because it’s not a feast of Jesus; if anything, it’s the feast of the Holy Spirit. But really it’s the feast of us. It’s about the change in people once Jesus was installed at the Father’s right hand (Ascension) from where, as he said, he can do us more good than when he was walking in the flesh. Once afraid and huddled in the Cenacle, “he so transformed them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life.” (St. Cyril) The Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell and alters the whole pattern of their lives………………………………………………………………………………… it is quite natural for people
who had been absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely other-worldly in outlook, and for cowards to become men of great courage.
So this is what we can look forward to, starting today’s feast. I’ll be sharing some of how this has affected me in recent years. What would you have to share on this?
Of course I want to address the changing pandemic hygiene environment. In a sense, not that much has changed. The official statement:
The Archbishop has adjusted the COVID regulations At Mass so that THOSE FULLY VACCINATED are not required to wear masks in church. All others are still required to wear masks at all times in church except for receiving Communion, until they are vaccinated. Those fully vaccinated should still consider wearing a mask while the congregation is not fully vaccinated as there is still a risk of infection in those vaccinated, and they can pass it on to those not fully vaccinated. Social distance requirements are still in effect.
I’ve been fully vaccinated, so I’m supposedly 93% safe from being infected. Put another way, I have a 7% chance of getting it, and then of passing it on to a more vulnerable person, and having to quarantine for two weeks. I’m continuing to wear my mask in public, especially indoor. More people continuing to do so will make it more comfortable for many people to return to church.
We have a long way to go with this pandemic, and the measures to contain it. Another spike, even shutdowns again, are conceivable. Barring that, we’ll have no changes to the Mass schedule by additions or subtractions, likely for the rest of this year. until the road ahead is much more certain than now.